The London Olympics opening ceremony: 7 crazy new details
A few tantalizing details about the planned London Olympics opening ceremony leaked last month: Its theme would be inspired by a line from Shakespeare's The Tempest, the show would feature 12,000 performers, and James Bond himself, actor Daniel Craig, would be involved. Now, artistic director Danny Boyle revealed that Olympic Stadium will be transformed into a British countryside for the $42 million ceremony. Here, seven other new details Boyle spoiled about the increasingly odd-sounding affair:
1. It's titled "Isles of Wonder"
Unveiling a replica of the set Tuesday, Boyle showcased plans to convert Olympic Stadium into a "green and pleasant land." A giant "river" will encircle the set, "allowing athletes to walk on water as they enter the Olympic Arena," says William Lee Adams at TIME. Another highlight: A massive replica of Glastonbury Tor, the famed pagan hill in southwest England that now hosts a popular music festival, with two mosh pits created at the foot of the hill.
2. The extras are cast in unusual roles
Thousands of volunteers will star in the spectacle. While one group will portray a village cricket team, exposing the world to the country's often baffling sport, another will parade as nurses to honor the country's National Health Service. The two mosh pits will each be stocked with 100 young "music fans."
3. The weather will be appropriately soggy
Boyle will bring in real soil, real grass, and real plows — and "to ensure an authentically British atmosphere," he also plans to supply high-tech clouds to produce rain should it be a dry night in London, says The Hollywood Reporter.
4. Sir Paul McCartney will perform
Though Boyle won't say exactly who will be supplying music, the U.K.'s Guardian reports that Sir Paul McCartney is a sure bet. Bands such as Take That and The Who are also expected to take part. We also know that Underworld, a British electronic music group, has already pre-recorded two "lengthy tracks" at the famed Abbey Road studio.
5. Keep your eyes out for a partridge in a pear tree…
According to Variety, the cast has already rehearsed the ceremony 157 times. That may sound excessive, but with 12 horses, three cows, two goats, 10 chickens, 10 ducks, nine geese, 70 sheep, and three sheep dogs among the performers, it's more like due diligence.
6. It will be a green ceremony
"The show will carry a heavy environmental theme," says Adams. A troupe of dancers will mime the threat of urban sprawl on Britain's countryside "by pretending to drive cars." Despite his desire to pay tribute to the Olympic ideal, says Boyle, his production won't be "naive": "The growth of cities is an extraordinary phenomenon that is clearly linked to the growth of the Olympic Games." At one point in the ceremony, lighting effects will transform the lush set into a "black and dreary landscape."
7. It will be huge
The budget for the Olympic opening and closing ceremonies was recently doubled by the British government, to a grand total of $126 million. The opening ceremony alone will feature 23,000 costumes and 2,956 props. Over 80,000 spectators will fill the stadium to watch the event in person, while the BBC predicts that more than one billion people will be tuning in around the world.